Saturday, April 28, 2018

DM Report: Back to the Briars All Over Again

  After a long break to "catch up the timelines" the party returned to the Briars. Still in the High Briars (more rugged, more remote, much more dangerous) they are hoping to map the eastern half of thsi High Briars before Winter arrives in earnest.
  They probably won't make it.

  Throughout the party dealt with the Autumn rains (which often forced them to wait out the weather to avoid getting lost), the venomous snakes and spiders, and the terrible terrain.

  The party began by evading the ambush of an ettercap that survived the murder of its clan a month before and has been tracking the party since. They added some pork to their rations via killing a wild boar and rescued two halflings from a group of ogres preparing to roast them. The halflings had been prisoners in the goblin village to the east before they were sold to the ogres and their tale was a shock to the party. The party immediately travelled to a place where they could watch the goblins.
  The goblin town is  akin to a large Iron Age hill fort with multiple rings of ditch + palisaded rampart, a maze-like entrance that requires you to weave back and forth under covering fire, and more. The party observed goblin spearmen in pike formations backed by bowmen and also watched skirmishers. The halflings also pointed out the bugbear clan with their massive chief and full witchdoctor.
  The halflings explained that all elves and dwarves were killed, female prisoners worked in the massive kitchens or as maidservants, and the men worked to maintain the walls, improve the trails or in the mine. Those slaves that tried to escape or fight back were sent to "clear the weeds" and were never seen again.
  The party estimated the town at 400-500 warriors, about 800 females and young, and about 30 bugbears. They passed a report on to Skull Mountain via magic and hope that the party leaders can take the place since the halflings say the goblins plan to march to war against the Kingdom in the Spring. They pressed on with their mission.

  A few days later they encountered a strong ogre patrol with a chieftain with gold-capped tusks. The orders the many ogres with him to attack as he called out a personal challenge to Bridget and charged her. The fight that followed lasted a long time but the party won through. Seeker had put one ogre to Sleep; interrogation revealed that Ol' Knobby was controlling the goblins, rallying all the ogres of the Briars to his banner, and preparing to conquer the entire area, turning it into his own kingdom. Ol' Knobby routinely left his lair to supervise the goblins.
  Ol' Knobby had the slaves working a platinum mine in the hills and the goblins were making coins so he could hire creatures to join him. One was Stonearm, a legendary mountain giant from the Graywall Mountains. Huge and terrifically strong even for one of his kind the creature was guarding Ol' Knobby's lair while he was gone, and had been given Manbreaker!
  The ogre attempted to escape and was cut down.

  Following the various directions they had to Ol' Knobby's lair they finally found it at the very edge of there the High Briars transition to the Low Briars just 5-7 miles from the goblins in a cave on the edge of the mountains. The cave is actually a perfectly round blister 240' across and 80' high with multiple 'levels' of floor all 1'-3' up or down in terraces (all confirmed by familiars and ravens).
  The ravens would not go within 100 yards of the entrance and as familiars got closer they were unable to communicate with their masters. The ravens spotted Ol' Knobby leave his cave but even they can't track him in the briars.

  When the party approached the cavern they felt an odd prickling on their skin, always facing the entrance. As they got closer it got more intense, although it had no game effects. The longer they were near the door the long the prickling/tingling lasted after they left. Normal animals hated it and even the familiar were eager to leave.

The party saw that regular food tribute was brought to the cavern and left outside about 100 yards away so they set an ambush...
  ...which worked. When Stonearm came out, Manbreaker jauntily held in one hand, the party attacked and achieved surprise for 2 segments.
  Which turned out to be just barely enough. Even with prepared spells, massed arrow fire from scouts in ambush, and backstabs, etc. they barely pulled off killing him. He was regenerating, and they spotted a silver band around his pinky - they pulled it off and he stopped healing. Seeker noticed that it was made of a metal like silver but incredibly tough and had an interior band of something like sandstone sovered in rainbow-accented lines like complicated knotwork etchings. While holding it he did not feel the prickling. Putting it around his head as a headband he felt calm and at ease.
After they swept the cavern for traps and loot. They found a platinum ingot, some magic items, and a door.
  A door like the one in Ol' One Fang's lair.
  They opened it (secret door check to find the mechanism).
  There was a small vestibule then a narrow corridor that went 40' back. In the back room was a metal wall covered in 144 small hemispherical piece of crystal that flashed various colors, each one with a rune by it. Three of the hemispheres were dull and the entire rightmost row was unblinking red.The ceiling was a sort of smoked glass that lit up as they entered. On a side wall was a panel of metal that had weird glass plates on it with writing. The writing was in the ancient tongue used by wizards and looked like this:

Remote Station #1

Magma- Sufficient Pressure
Turbine- Disengaged
Status- Containment Failure
Comm Link- Active
Override- insert key

  The recognized it instantly, of course. Seeker reached out and touched the glass panel where the letters wer red and heard a voice in his head,
  "Connecting you to Sleeping Princess. "
  A moment later he heard a beautiful female voice in his head say,
  "I am Xoab Shahdokht, what is wrong?"
  Seeker explained what he saw and Xoab Shahdokht had him touch buttons on the panel in a particular (complex) order. The entire mountain trembled and then there was a distant, massive 'thud' and the panel read,
  "Status- No Auxiliary Power: Ready"
  And the tingling stopped for everyone.
  Xoab Shahdokht began to say something about how to free her when the original voice, like the security bots in Skull Mountain, vut in,
  "Unauthorized Communications."
  And the circlet burned out.

  Seeker carried Manbreaker into the control room and sealed the door.

  Now they are waiting to ambush Ol' Knobby when he returns.

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